Synnex looks to up the ante on Varnex education offerings

Bob Stegner, senior vice president of North American marketing at Synnex

Bob Stegner, senior vice president of North American marketing at Synnex

Synnex is looking to take members of its Varnex reseller community back to school, planning for an expanded educational component in 2019.

Varnex University has been part of the distributor’s program since 2012, but the program is slated for expansion next year, according to Bob Stegner, senior vice president of marketing or the Americas at Synnex, who notes that education “is the number-one thing [solution providers] ask us about.”

“A lot of our VARs don’t have the time and resources to seek things out when it comes to education, and that’s where we can help — we can come in and lay it out for them,” Stegner said.

Stegner said the expansion would come in the form of both technology and business education, offering more content both on the types of solutions that members are offering, or should be offering in the near future, and broader business-wide topics. Historically, in that latter field, the group has focused heavily on sales, including training offerings for VARs to send new salespeople to get “101”-level sales training. But Stegner said a major goal is expanding the kind of training solutions providers get on other business topics — from leadership to marketing.

The plan, he said, is to assign a “Dean” to Varnex University, and then to work out a with the Varnex leadership council in a meeting during the first week of 2019, and then roll it out to the community shortly afterwards. Stegner, a Californian who frequently styles himself an honourary Canadian as a result of his long-standing focus on our country as part of North America-wide organizations, was quick to add that content would be “tweaked for both countries.”

That may well include in-country Varnex U classes for the first time. Historically, the distributor has hosted the classes for its programs at its Greenville, South Carolina headquarters. But next year, Stegner said, they’ll be looking to take the show on the road, including stops in Canadian centres like Toronto. The goal, he said, will be to pick relatively central, major hubs that are easy to get to from a number of U.S. and Canadian cities, to reduce the challenges solution providers have with losing days to travel.

The focus on education was welcomed by Troy Drever, president of Calgary-based Pure IT, a longtime Varnex member.

Troy Drever, president of Pure IT

Troy Drever, president of Pure IT

“I really like going to events where I can learn something to help with the business side of my business — how to best close a managed services deal, sales, marketing, HR, operations,” Drever said. “Those are critical areas that we need to get good at, and if there were more content and that kind of thing, that would make this even better.”

The community is also likely to grow from its current ranks of 350 or so members — up about 30 over the course of 2018. Stegner said he was committed to growing the community, but wanted to be strategic in so doing.

“I don’t want to have too many competing members in the same smaller markets,” Stegner said. But what he would be happy to consider is more members in the same markets, with very different focuses. Part of the magic of reseller communities like Varnex, after all, is the ability to build businesses through partner-to-partner connections to grow businesses.

“If I have an IT solutions partner in a city, and I bring in an audio-visual partner or a managed print company, we can really look at their businesses and how to expand together as they can partner with another Varnex member to enhance the solutions they’re taking to their end users,” Stegner said.

One way to do that might be to take the smaller communities forming around Synnex’s various technology- and vertical-focused Solv practices and bring them in close connection to Varnex.

Drever mentioned those types of partner-to-partner connections high on his list of benefits of the community, noting that “we’ve got a lot of partnerships with other members in the community,” either on a geographic basis to to improve coverage, or as Stegner describes, in expanding the scope of the solutions they can offer. In Pure’s case, one particularly successful engagement has been an ongoing connection with a managed print partner which has spawned a very successful marketing event so far, with more to come.

“It’s great because when we work with another partner that’s not a competitor of ours, it’s very synergistic.”

While those kinds of partner-to-partner connections can also come outside a community, Drever said there are a familiarity and a comfort in forming such deals with fellow Varnex members because there’s “an inherent level of trust” with those he’s gotten to know through the years at various Varnex events. He said he welcomes the idea of the community expanding.

“I’m happy to talk to newbies about joining,” Drever said.

Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997.